When a bus packed with migrants pulled into downtown Los Angeles in mid-June, it caused a local stir: In a city with one of the largest immigrant populations, it was the first busload to arrive courtesy of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. This week, the 12th such bus arrived in Los Angeles, part of Abbott's determination to share the responsibility of caring for newly arrived migrants with Democratic politicians who have supported a more welcoming national immigration policy, the New York Times reports. Both the Texas governor and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida have offered migrants free rides from border towns to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and several other cities since last year. The arrivals have overwhelmed the resources of some cities, straining shelters and aid resources. “It is abhorrent that an American elected official is using human beings as pawns in his cheap political games,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.
The reality is that the number of migrants offered free passage from Texas over the past year is a small fraction of those who regularly make their way from the southern border to cities around the U.S. to places where there are jobs, family connections and networks of other immigrants from their homelands. It has been that way for years. Of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in 50 states, according to demographers’ estimates, most began their new lives with a trip from a border city or airport — usually paid for by a relative, an aid group or their own savings, not the Texas governor. The migrants boarding the Texas-funded buses represent only a small fraction of the thousands arriving at the border each month, and some migrants are wary of accepting a free ride. The Texas busing program has sent about 34,740 migrants to other states since April of 2022, enough to populate a small city. That is a paltry subset of the hundreds of thousands who have crossed the border during that period. New York alone has received more than 100,000 migrants in the last year; only 13,100 were sent on buses provided by the state of Texas.